You’ve left the office thought about work while you travelled home, you’re now at home, and you’re still thinking about work. What happened in the day, who said what to whom, the meetings, the people in this meeting, your boss, the phone calls, the clients, the projects. You reach out for your blackberry, which is always on, and nearby and you check your emails.
This may be a typical pattern throughout your career. You know it is good for your wellbeing to disconnect but may have never actually given yourself a chance or enough practice for it to become a habit.
You may believe that if you work harder for longer, it will bring you success faster. But that isn’t necessarily true.
Has technology become your friend or foe?
Technology has well and truly revolutionised the way we work than ever before. With all the gadgets in our lives making it easier for us to access work from anywhere at anytime, it’s become harder to separate professional time from personal time.
Ssshhhhhhhhhhh I’ll tell you a little secret…
The great news is that it is highly possible to detach from work at the end of the day. Not only that, Some of the happiest, most ‘switched on’ successful people I know are also the same individuals who have an instant ability to put themselves in another state of mind like flicking a switch. It’s a luxury and one that all professionals at the top of their game, must master.
You know the story…
All day long we are receiving emails, text messages, phone calls and retrieving voicemails on our landlines at home and work and our mobile phones. You get ready to leave the office, realising it’s too late to go this work gathering for your colleagues leaving party or someone’s birthday, and you start heading home. As you exit the office, you bid farewell to the security guard who now recognises you with your late night working, and you head home with the other tired commuters. Even when we’re not officially working, you see it on visual display everywhere- people glued to their blackberry’s, iPhones with the infamous white earplugs plugged in.
Too often we leave our offices still thinking about the day’s events, tasks, activities, people, meetings and it sometimes feels like you are always climbing this slippery slope. The good news is that it IS possible to disconnect from work and the even better news is that it’s all in your mind…
But what do you do when you know it’s good for your wellbeing to shut off from work yet you don’t do it?
Here are five ways to disconnect from work when the clock strikes ‘close of business’ time:
1. Attend an event.
Arrange something after work that you would look forward to attending- might be meeting up with a friend, a workout such as a spinning class, yoga, pilates (excellent if you are at your desk all day long), or making a great meal at home from one of the many cookbooks on your shelf or recipe from the internet that you prepare from scratch for yourself, your partner or friends. Or what about something completely different and ‘off the wall’ like indoor rock climbing? Whatever it is, make sure you leave any work thoughts and stress behind you.
2. Smile at your accomplishments.
When you look at your to-do list, take a moment to reflect on your day and think about all the things you have done, including those NOT on the list. Now is the time to look at what you’ve got coming up the next day and if you need to transfer some of your tasks over to the following days to do list.
Mentally prepare yourself as you review the next day.
Once you’ve written down what the outstanding items are and added what’s coming up, you can safely end your day knowing that you’ve reviewed the past and mentally prepared yourself for the future.
3. Make that important distinction.
Decide to distinguish between work and personal life. Establish those boundaries and stick to it. Be specific about what time and the location. For example, when you leave the office and you step outside, that is your cue that you are making the transition into your personal space.
The Dublin office of Google instituted a policy called “Google Goes Dark.” This meant that their employees in that office were forced to turn their work devices off and leave them at the office. This was done to draw clear boundaries between home life and work life.
What lengths do you have to go to, to make that distinction?
Practice focusing on ‘being present’ from the time you exit your company’s offices until you lay your head down on your pillow to sleep.
Take in the sights, sounds, smells and how that makes you feel – look up and notice the sky as you walk out your building, if you read the evening paper then feel the paper in-between your fingers, read the articles, when you get home notice how great it feels to be home, the place where you can unwind and be yourself sans the suit, a place you can wear whatever you want without any dress policy! Enjoy the taste of your meal, notice the textures, colours, if you’re going to be relaxing on the sofa then feel yourself relaxing.
Be fully present until you sleep.
5. Practise, Practise, Practise.
Commit to yourself that you are going to practice these five ways until it becomes a habit. Know that you owe this to yourself for all the hard work you’ve invested in your working week and that to make your career journey an even bigger success, you cannot afford not to disconnect from work at the end of your working day.
Remind yourself that you need this time out to rejuvenate, refresh and return with a fresh perspective and outlook so you can tackle the new day with a recharged and clear-headed mind.
Remember to put it all in perspective…
There is a whole lot more going on in the world and indeed your personal world than only business. Workaholics tend to expand their job to fill out their entire world, which causes them stress and affects the rest of those around them. Don’t become one of those people since it’s too easy to fall into that trap. Instead focus on achieving balance in your life, which is key in today’s fast moving world.
The rest will fall into place.
What do YOU think?
When you have those days after a long days work solving problems and you leave the office with not having tackled your own activities, how do you handle this? What did you do about it?
Are you using any of the five ways to disconnect from work already? Join in the conversation and share your ways to disconnect with our high performing community.
To your high-flying success!
Nis Arend, Founder – The Corporate Confidante
We are all in this together.
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The Corporate Confidante is a global training boutique that specialises in elevating top talent, without the fluff. Aimed at training the top 1% in professional services, they are renowned for achieving rapid results, building high performing teams and shaping leaders.